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CONTENTS Beauty In All Facets Of Life 03 Artist Dee Degard on her images of Big Issue vendors What You Helped Us Achieve 04 Our work for vendors – in numbers Back On Track (cover story) 06 Michael is working hard to make a new life in Bristol A Week In The Life 08 Geo Leonard, Service Broker, Bath News From Around The Country 10 Employment, card readers and a much-missed vendor Vendors Visit The House Of Lords 12 John Bird hosts an important event Making Housing Into Homes 13 10,000 helped by new homelessness legislation Beauty Sleep 14 Supporters sleep outside to show solidarity Catalysts For Social Change 16 Partnering is a vital element of our work Life Can Be Hard But Giving Can Be Easy 18 Ways of donating to us while giving to others Turning The Page 20 Vendor Aaron on his plans and his favourite reading material

How you can get involved with The Big Issue Foundation, p15

WWW.BIGISSUE.ORG.UK/NEWSLETTERS Photography by Magnus Arrevad (p1, 5-9) and Marcus Jamieson-Pond (p14-15). To complement the self-help ethos of The Big Issue magazine, The Big Issue Foundation was established in 1995 as an independently registered charity. We support Big Issue vendors to achieve financial stability through their magazine sales while supporting them to overcome longstanding social disadvantages. All of our beneficiaries are Big Issue vendors who buy magazines for £1.25 with their own money from official distribution points and sell them for £2.50 on a designated pitch. Our vision is to end poverty and exclusion for vendors and our mission is to connect them to the vital support and specialist services that enable them to rebuild their lives and determine their own pathways to a better future.

3rd Floor, 113-115 Fonthill Road, Finsbury Park, London, N4 3HH Tel: 0207 526 3458 Email: @TBIF Instagram: @thebigissuefoundation TheBigIssueFoundation Linkedin: The Big Issue Foundation Registered Charity No. 1049077 UNSUBSCRIBE INFO: If you wish to unsubscribe from our postal newsletters please call 0207 526 3458 or email

Big Issue vendors work in the heart of our communities, buying their magazines with their own cash, selling them at their own profit or loss – simple! Technically a vendor is a newsagent without a shop. Yes, they will have issues, worries and concerns, as do we all, but they are in the business of changing their lives through work; each sale is one more step towards future potential and personal change. When a vendor holds up a copy of this week’s Big Issue the front cover is far more than the piece of A4 paper that it is; it is a mirror that reflects to individuals the views they hold about homeless people. It may stir feelings of sympathy, concern and the desire to engage but all too frequently it can engender an emotional reaction, negative judgement and a suspicion that this newsagent is in some way the architect of their own decline, worthy of little but disdain and dismissal. Some potential customers will even share these feelings with the seller or simply avert their eyes or pretend to make a phone call. As featured Big Issue vendor Michael says in this newsletter, “I was so nervous at first. People could tell because they were coming up to me and asking why.” Being a newsagent without a shop is one of the toughest jobs in the country. So, when you look in the mirror what do you see? This newsletter is not about ‘homeless people’, it is about ‘people’. It reflects the energy and endeavours of Big Issue vendors, the impressive commitment of our supporters and the vital work and achievements that have been made possible through this support for our charity by you, our valued donors and Big Issue believers. We need to dispel our own myths and fears to help us understand that real change is possible. So often I hear people say that we are all just a few payslips away from homelessness. This is said with all good intent, that homelessness is nearer than we think and that any of us are closer to the streets than we realise and that we should therefore think and behave differently. Recent research revealed that social mobility has not changed in over nine years. There are simply not enough affordable homes in existence, or being built; welfare policy is punitive and ‘housing benefit’, which traditionally played an important role in preventing homelessness, no longer covers the cost of renting. The lack of meaningful preventative legislation and policy are the key drivers of homelessness and these drivers disproportionately impact the poorest members of our society. We can all campaign, lobby and vote for change. We should do that with the hope that we can effect democratic systemic change for the better, bring about an end to austerity and sow the seeds for future prosperity. This newsletter is testament to how we can and do create change every day. It shows the positive difference that buying The Big Issue can make for your local newsagent without a shop. It demonstrates the impact of the work of our frontline teams and, critically, the diverse ways that people can and do support the fundraising efforts. This is activism at a different level altogether! We have more good work to be done, journeys to undertake and new stories to be written. Please do support us in the certainty that we can continue to make this all happen. Thank you for being a change maker, for buying The Big Issue magazine, and for supporting our charitable work.

Stephen Robertson, Chief Executive, The Big Issue Foundation




ast year, Dee Degard, artist and painter at the Royal College of Arts, generously offered a percentage of the proceeds from her exhibition as a gift to The Big Issue Foundation. Following the exhibition she asked three Big Issue vendors if they would be willing to be part of an expression of her art. The images feature Degard’s artist impressions of three Big Issue vendors*, Andre, Dave and George. It all started with a blinding flash of light, or, more specifically, spotting a blue square in front of the chest area of someone chairing a meeting which I attended, more than 20 years ago. I had been observing these flashes, lights, energies, all my life and I could never interpret them. But on this day, after I had seen ‘the blue square’, my friend at the meeting said of the Chairman: "Isn’t it fantastic he is doing this work, given that he has just had triple by-pass surgery!" My ah-ha moment! I then understood that this ‘blue square’ was the memory and consciousness held around

the body, or what I term today ‘aetheric energy’. The square of the aetheric energy was the surgical intervention, the blue showed profound and massive healing and the location of the ‘blue square’ indicated where the operation had taken place thereby affecting the aura pure. From that point in time I looked and looked for knowledge anywhere, everywhere. What I discovered is that this knowledge is mostly lost. It is however deeply discerned by everyone, through vibe and karma; when you meet someone it is their own aetheric energy which informs you whether they seem to be ‘your kind of person'. What I came to uncover is this ‘blue square’ energy is described in all its complexity by no one. I have been homeless: thrown out of the family home and told to never come back. I really feel for those that are homeless and I love The Big Issue. I love The Big Issue because the people who create it are creative; they highlight the arts, and when you are struggling in life, art is a wonderful assistant. And I love the Big Issue vendors because I see them as heroes and heroines of our time; to stand, to actually STAND, all day in all weathers, holding your lifeline – The Big Issue magazine – and hope that people will buy the


magazine from you to stretch oneself out of homelessness. So I approached The Big Issue and met with all the wonderful people there. We arranged an event where I met three incredible, wise, powerful, proud homeless men. Ironically the event was staged at Bank, London and, as its name suggests, it is The Bank of England’s site. The context where the vendors were posed, and the positioning and lighting, was intended to draw out not the old 'them and us, rich v poor' narrative, but to give the significance of these incredible individuals who by life’s sleight of hand fell on awful times and found themselves without friends, without family and with no money. The streets became their lives. They show such strength, however, I could see when caught in moments, their intense vulnerability and the incredible hardships they have endured and conquered. * Each impression is for sale at £2,000 with 50% of the proceeds from the sale to be gifted to the vital work of The Big Issue Foundation. If you are interested in purchasing one of these pieces, please contact Serena Crisp at The Big Issue Foundation:

of sales enabled him to take a well-earned week off. Elsewhere, Paul in Nottingham says: “I managed to pick up a few more customers after my Service Broker Becky encouraged me to invest in a card reader. I picked up 16 to 17 extra customers alone in the first week I started using it. I ordered it online for £33 and it has been money well spent - I’m selling more than I ever have. "I’m proud to be the first vendor in the East Midlands to purchase my own card reader. There has been quite a lot interest locally, which has seen me interviewed by the Nottingham Evening Post and the radio station Gem FM as well as appearing on Central ITV News and East Midlands Today. One of the other vendors who has seen me with it now wants to get his own so I think it’ll catch on.”



130 outcomes

130 financial outcomes enabling Big Issue vendors to improve their budgeting skills, manage their money, open bank accounts and/or address any underlying debt issues. With the help of her Service Broker in Birmingham, Daniella attended an appointment with the Young Parent's Careers Advisor. As a result, she is now able to claim additional income in support of her young family.



The Big Issue Foundation works hard to support vendors. Here are some facts and figures that celebrate their steps forward

ervice Brokerage is our core work. Our frontline workers - Service Brokers - are trained to accurately identify the health, housing, employment and other support needs of a Big Issue vendor and provide expert information, advice and guidance on the best way to address these needs. Over the last 12 months (April 2018-March 2019), your generous support enabled our network of Service Brokers to support 1,246 Big Issue vendors to become financially independent and overcome social exclusion. This resulted in 597 positive outcomes encompassing the following:


93 outcomes

93 outcomes enabling Big Issue vendors to achieve and exceed personal sales goals. Bristol-based vendor Jack achieved his aim of selling over 200 mags in the seven days he was featured in The Big Issue’s popular My Pitch feature. This quantity THE BIG ISSUE FOUNDATION / p4 / SUMMER 2019


56 outcomes

56 housing outcomes ensuring Big Issue vendors were supported to access safe and secure accommodation and prevented from future homelessness through ongoing tenancy support. Kimberley was accompanied to sign a housing contract with Liberty Estate agents in Finsbury Park during December. Within two months, she progressed from living on the street in London to making a sustainable living selling The Big Issue and being permanently housed.


124 outcomes

124 improved health outcomes enabling Big Issue vendors to register with a GP and access dental treatment, mental health and other specialist health services. Working in partnership with local health professionals, our Service Brokers identify the physical and mental health needs of vendors and make intelligent referrals to the appropriate health services. In Oxford, Service Broker Elizabeth supported Dave to make and attend an appointment at the Rheumatology Department of the local hospital. He has been prescribed a course of steroid injections and is now experiencing less pain in his hands and feet.



update their CV, and with job search, interview coaching and completing job applications. Having gained several qualifications through Southampton FC’s Saints Foundation employability programme, Julie successfully secured a stewarding job at near neighbours Bournemouth FC for the start of the 2018-19 season. She is now match-day stewarding for both Southampton and Bournemouth at weekends while supplementing her income by continuing to sell The Big issue during the week. Julie says:“Having moved to Bournemouth, I gave myself two months to find housing and explore other employment opportunities. It took four, but I got out of the hostel and into my own place. "I enrolled on an employability programme with Southampton FC where I achieved my Level 1 Customer Service Certificate and Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Stewarding at Spectator Events. "Since then I have stewarded over 20 matches and love it.”




26 outcomes ensuring Big Issue vendors struggling with drugs and/or alcohol misuse were appropriately supported to access and remain engaged with addiction treatment programmes. In Bath, Anthony was referred to the Beehive Centre where he is engaging with addiction treatment. He is now receiving specialist support from a drugs worker and beginning detox.


75 outcomes

75 outcomes supporting Big Issue vendors to explore career opportunities when they felt ready to move on from The Big Issue. This includes harnessing the transferable skills vendors learn by selling the magazine and helping them

outcomes 17 outcomes enabling Big Issue vendors to add to their skills set and pursue aspirations. Adrian attended a taster session at Miss Macaroon’s, a social enterprise in Birmingham offering kitchen-based training courses to young people currently not in education, training or employment. He really enjoyed the session and is hoping to enrol while continuing to sell The Big Issue.


OUR SERVICE BROKERS IDENTIFY THE PHYSICAL A N D M E N TA L H E A LT H NEEDS OF OUR VENDORS benefits (e.g. housing support). The most common forms of ID required are a birth certificate and/or passport. Service Brokers support vendors to gather all necessary documentation and contribute towards the fee through the Vendor Support Fund, if necessary. Pablo had lost his Citizen Card and was very worried that with Brexit he would be asked to leave the country having no official ID. We applied for a replacement online and it arrived within three weeks. He is considerably more relaxed having it.


57 outcomes


outcomes 19 outcomes supporting vendors to gain official ID. A lack of ID is a huge barrier to vendors wishing to open a bank account, register an address and/or claim THE BIG ISSUE FOUNDATION / p5 / SUMMER 2019

57 outcomes supporting Big Issue vendors to reconnect with family and achieve other personal aspirations. Jim was delighted to be part of a Streetwise Opera production that recently performed at Nottingham Trent University. He has become an integral member of the Street Wise Team which has hugely benefited his physical and mental health. Jim was especially happy to see the friendly, familiar face of Service Broker Becky at the performance.



Michael is determined to make progress now he is moving in the right direction with a great pitch and supportive customers at Bristol Temple Meads train station

y name is Michael and I have been selling The Big Issue in Bristol for about two years now. I’m from Leicester originally but I fell in love and moved to Bristol. It didn’t quite work out, but I fell in love with Bristol. There are some lovely buildings around and some great art galleries. But mostly it’s all about the people – very friendly and relaxed, a proper sense of community. Somewhere along the way though I got in with the wrong crowd and I got mixed up with drugs. I ended up going to prison for 16 months. As soon as the judge’s hammer

went down and I was sentenced, I immediately knew I wanted to turn my life around. I decided to use the time locked up to become a better version of myself. I spent the time studying and ended up getting 19 qualifications including Level 1&2 Maths, English, IT and my Level 2 Information Advice and Guidance certificate. I was ready to be a better version of myself when I left prison. After I completed my sentence, I had 16 months on probation but during that time I was given no support and I spent my first night out of prison sleeping rough. A centre was able to refer me to a night shelter, but it was on a night-by-night basis so there was no security. You had no idea if THE BIG ISSUE FOUNDATION / p6 / SUMMER 2019

you would have somewhere to sleep from one day to the next. Probation washed their hands of me because I was homeless. After the first month, almost all my connection with them was over the phone rather than in person. It felt like they did that so they never had to look me in the eyes and know they weren’t helping me. Despite best intentions, I came out of prison and I couldn’t get a job. Not only did I have to contend with my criminal convictions but I was also homeless: no fixed address, no bank account, nothing. I ended up going back to Leicester briefly because of the promise of a job working for a logistics company, unloading containers. But it was a last-one-in,

I WENT OFF THE RAILS A N D D I D N ' T K N O W W H AT TO DO, SO I BEGGED first-one-out situation. I didn’t let it get me down completely but then my landlord said, “I don’t want anyone on housing benefit to live in my property.” I looked at him and said, “I’ve just lost my job and now you’re throwing me out.” Once again, I was homeless. So I came back to Bristol but had no local connection. I went off the rails for a bit. I didn’t know what to do. I ended up just sitting down and begging. You can get by begging, financially, but mentally it was tough. People look down on you, literally and figuratively. I felt so demoralised and I wasn’t the confident guy I used to be. It would have been very tempting and very easy to go back to my old life. I could have been off the street in days if I had gone back to my old life but I wanted more for myself. I chose to do a year and a half of rough sleeping over going back because I wanted more, I believed I deserved more. One day when I was sat down begging someone from The Big Issue approached me and told me about becoming a vendor. I thought I may as well give it a go. My pitch ended up being where I had been begging so I knew the area and I was a familiar face to a lot of people walking past. I’d never done sales like this before and I felt so awkward when I first started selling. I nearly quit in the first few days, I had actually been making more money begging. But as the days and weeks went on, I began to build up a customer base and see the same people. The human contact and friendliness is what kept me going. When I was begging I was sat with my head down whereas now I could stand tall. People respect that and I began to notice people talking to me more. Hearing someone say something like “Good luck with today” made a huge difference. Before I became homeless and before I sold the Big Issue, I judged people in those situations. I was brought up to believe it was always their own fault. What I’ve learnt is sometimes things are taken out of your control. I was stood there and it had happened to me. I know I’d made mistakes, I’d been to prison, but I’d tried to turn my life around. I had lost that job in Leicester through no fault of my own and here I was. I’ve learnt not to judge anyone. You don’t know someone’s life or circumstances. I realise that if I had that perception of Big Issue vendors, then other people would too. I knew I had to break down those barriers. That first pitch was great and I got to know a few people but everyone was always in a rush. The Big Issue Foundation had been working with National Rail and there was a pitch opening at Bristol Temple Meads station. They suggested I apply, and not only did I get interviewed for the

station pitch but I got accepted. I’ve been at the station now for nine months and it’s amazing. The staff treat me really well, like part of the team. I know the station inside out now and I know the trains. If people aren’t sure where to go I know what trains leave from what platforms. There are so many more people here at the station and it was great to have more customers but I found a lot of people didn’t have cash. The Foundation was able to help me get a card reader by accessing the Vendor Support Fund. I saved up some of the money and they provided the rest. It’s increased my sales by about a third! Having everyone pay by card was challenging at first, I was so used to having instant money and now I was waiting several days to receive the funds but the Foundation was able to help me budget to get through the first week. Now I’m used to it and it’s brilliant to have increased sales. The Big Issue Foundation also helped to get my birth certificate, which has enabled me to apply for a passport. In fact, we were just completing my application together today, so that should arrive in the next few weeks. I’ve never left the country before and it’s not something I’ve ever thought about but now that I’m beginning to save a little I’m hoping to be able to go on a holiday abroad. One day I would love to be able to go to Thailand but for now anywhere would be an adventure. I’m thinking maybe Spain. All of my customers are amazing and are helping me to progress not just financially but personally too. It’s not just the sales, people stop and talk here. There is one person who stops for 10 minutes every day and chats to me asking about how my day is going and how last night

MY CUSTOMERS ARE AMAZING AND HELPING ME MAKE PROGRESS was. And that’s what means more than the money itself. They’re actually taking an interest to get to know me. This human connection, I think it’s important for everyone. After a referral from the Foundation, this year I completed Peer Mentor training. Once I have more stability, I definitely want to work in mentoring and support, particularly in the youth sector. I never had anyone when I was young. I never had someone offer to take me to one side and help me figure out why I was acting the way I was acting. I think I could really help young people because I’ve been through it all myself. Where I’ve come from, this is where my life went and I can ask if this is really where they want to end up in 10 years' time, having been to jail and homeless. I’m not ashamed of my story or my situation, I’m THE BIG ISSUE FOUNDATION / p7 / SUMMER 2019

proud to be a Big Issue vendor but I think it’s better to prevent people getting into these situations in the first place. I haven’t reoffended in nearly six years. I’ve also been drug free since January this year, so over six months. Not only do I feel much better but I didn’t realise how much money I was spending. With all the money I’ve saved, I’ve discovered a new talent. I’ve got into go-karting. I save up so I can go once or twice a month as something I do just for me. I’m actually the seventh fastest at my track. I’m sofa surfing at the moment but I know I can’t do that forever, I don’t want to. Where I’m staying at the moment won’t be able to put me up for much longer so I’m not sure what will happen. The council has told me that because I have no local connections, they can’t help me. Hopefully the Foundation will be able to put me in touch with organisations that can help. The Foundation helps vendors get to where they need to be, it gives them support. When I was first on the street, I had nothing. Having a Service Broker who knows you and your story, that single point of contact, really helps. But everyone in the office takes the time to get to know you. It’s a unique relationship where they are there for you and they don’t expect anything from you in return. It’s nice. A lot of people don’t have that kind of support in their life. I was completely shut off and The Big Issue has helped me become myself again. I’ve found new things about myself and with the support of the Foundation I’ve been able to slowly go on this journey and find my own path. I’ve learnt to take small steps to create a strong platform that I can build upon. It’s like I’ve started on the ground floor, I’ve built my way up and I’m almost there. I just need to get the roof on top to complete it.



Monday morning is universally the busiest morning at every Big Issue office in the country and Bath is no exception! I meet our vendors at Green Park station and it’s a great time to catch up on how everyone’s weekend went and if there were any problems as we wait for the magazine delivery. Our vendor Harry has money he wants to put in the Vendor Savers Scheme -he’s saving towards a passport. After everyone has bought their magazines and confirmed the pitches, I’m straight on the train to Warminster. Here I deliver magazines to vendors so they do not have the additional cost of a train fare to a central office. In Warminster I catch up with a vendor who wants to know more about his rights as he is living in his campervan. We head over to the Citizen’s Advice drop-in together to get advice and information. Back in the office in Bath I’ve got a meeting with Metro Bank’s local director to discuss what vendors need to apply for a standard account. Many people on the streets don’t have a bank account and we want to support as many people as possible towards financial independence and managing their own money.


This week is a special week because on Thursday we have the opening of our new exhibition about the working lives of vendors in Bath at the Museum of Bath at Work. We were so pleased that vendors' work could be showcased in a space that recognises the last 2,000 years of

labour around Bath. I check in with the museum to make sure the right pictures are going up. A volunteer, Julia, recorded audio interviews with vendors and they all sound great, making a fantastic addition to the exhibition. From there it’s straight off to an outreach meeting as vendor Harry wants to catch up. Harry has saved enough money for his Vendor Support Fund application for a new passport. This is so important as often when applying for a bank account, support services or even a job, photo ID is required.


This morning I’m doing my first outreach with the local hostel’s new mental health worker. Along with a couple of vendors, I make my way round to the hostel. It’s great to get our relationship off to a good start so we can hit the ground running on supporting both existing and potential new vendors. Joint outreaches are a really great time to make vendors aware of other services available in the area. I get back to the office and meet with our vendor Camilla who is considering moving on and wants to know what jobs are out there. She doesn’t have access to the internet, so we have a look on the computer in the office to see what jobs are available. She seems interested in cleaning roles.


On Thursday morning I catch up with some admin before heading out on a late-morning outreach with a member of the Developing Health and Independence


engagement team. They run services to help disadvantaged people and those living on the margins of society to turn their lives around. We have a longstanding relationship with them that ensures we can keep vendors up to date with the health and substance abuse support available. This evening we’ve got the opening of our exhibit showcasing vendors’ working lives. Myself and our volunteers Imogen and Ceci head to the museum to set up and wait for our vendor, William, who has a passion for history and is eager to help with the event and explain more about his work. We get a great turn-out and even the Mayor buys a magazine off William! The exhibit is at the Museum of Bath at Work on Julian Road until 1 September.


It’s ‘Wiltshire Friday’ and I’m off to check in with all our vendors in West and North Wiltshire. It is a long journey involving multiple buses but it is important that we connect face-to-face with as many vendors as possible. Many vendors do not have a good support system in place and it’s important that they know there is someone in their corner, someone who is there to help them, whether that’s connecting them with local services or just providing a cuppa and a friendly ear. Whether vendors decide to engage with our services or not, it is important that they know we see them, and they matter to us. We are there for them when they are ready to take the next step on their pathway to a better future.


LONDON We are delighted to share the news


that a vendor has moved into paid employment following a corporate placement with the Wellcome Trust. We have also developed partnerships with both the Pret Rising Stars Programme and BEAM; who provide crowdfunded employment training for homeless people. We are excited to begin referring vendors to both these schemes. We have been working with a Roma Support Group to help Roma vendors organise documents to apply for settled status in the UK. This will provide stability and a motivational pathway for them to continue taking positive steps forward in their lives. Finally, we have five vendors participating in the Pay It Forward pilot, which has seen them set up with a Monzo bank account and reap the rewards of increased digital sales. Alongside this, we have assisted multiple vendors to obtain card payment machines via the Vendor Support Fund, making finance more inclusive for vendors in an increasingly digital world.

BATH & BRISTOL It’s been a hectic time again – one vendor has been offered a weeklong work placement with local newspaper Bristol247.


We have continued to build our networks with partners, including a drop-in with Stand Against Racism & Inequality (SARI) and St Mungo’s. We are also collaborating with Sales and Operations colleagues to promote and implement the Pay It Forward scheme. We’ve been encouraging vendors to apply to the Vendor Support Fund to obtain card readers. Meanwhile, we conducted some outreach with Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Worker and Developing Health and Independence’s engagement team. We’re also pleased to have reconnected with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community workers and look forward to future joint outreaches.

DORSET AND HAMPSHIRE In Dorset and Hampshire, we started

off the year with a lovely Christmas dinner for the vendors in Bournemouth! January can be a tough month for vendors after the busy Christmas period, so this was our way of saying thank you and a Happy New Year. This year we have really pushed to extend our reach to vendors across the area by conducting a regular twicemonthly outreach to Hampshire vendors. We have a great relationship with Bournemouth University Social Care department and have led four presentations to first-year paramedic students on homelessness, access to healthcare and how we support vendors to alleviate health issues. On a sad note, May 7 marked the 10-year anniversary of the death of Big Issue vendor Ralph Millward, who was killed while sleeping next to his pitch in Westbourne. We are planting some summer flowers in Ralph’s memorial planter next to his old pitch.

NOTTINGHAM In Nottingham we’ve been enjoying our

bright new office on Derby Road. We've been busy trying out new ways to help our vendors, including being part of the Pay It Forward trial. We are involved with local organisations to increase financial inclusion. This means working with local banks to improve services for vulnerable people, including trying to make setting up accounts easier. One of our vendors performed in the Streetwise Opera 'Opera In An Hour' at Nottingham Trent University. The performance was fantastic. We also attended an excellent awareness and education session run by the Hepatitis C nurses at Nottingham University Hospital, Emmanuel House Day Centre and The Health Shop. It was incredibly useful, with vendors being offered consultations with specialist workers. A big thank you for your ongoing support of all our vendors.

OXFORD We have been busy providing support to

vendors in the region. This has included acting in an advocacy role for a vendor who has been informed that he is liable for Council Tax despite the fact that his only income is from selling The Big Issue; arranging a dental appointment for a vendor who hadn’t accessed a dentist for over 10 years; and supporting a vendor who suffers from anxiety to attend a Personal Independence Payment assessment. During our money-themed fortnight, we focused on conducting financial capability assessments with individual vendors. This enabled us to become more informed about vendor’s circumstances, meaning that we can better assist them with accessing relevant resources and


V E N D O R S H AV E LEARNED HOW TO SPOT SIGNS OF M O D E R N S L AV E R Y services to promote their financial inclusion. We even had a vendor who accessed the Vendor Support Fund to buy a smartphone – he will be the first to have an iZettle card machine in Oxford. We have also been involved with the Oxfordshire Anti-Slavery network as well as the local City Conversation, which is endeavouring to bring organisations and individuals together to tackle the problem of rough sleeping in the city.

BIRMINGHAM & THE WEST MIDLANDS There have been lots of opportunities to

work with our partners in Birmingham over the last few months. We arranged for the Birmingham Careers Service to have a monthly drop-in session at our office where the vendors can access advice and practical support around health, wellbeing, education, training, financial capability and employment. We are also creating an opportunity for vendors to speak to LEAP – the Local Energy Advice Partnership – an organisation aiming to prevent individuals falling into fuel poverty. We also delivered a Modern Slavery awareness session in partnership with Transforming Communities Together and the Clewer Initiative. This session, which was for our vendors, was so valuable; they’ve learned how to spot signs of modern slavery and what support is available. At the end of March, The Big Issue featured exclusive cover art by Birmingham satirical artist Cold War Steve. He did a sell-off in the city centre with vendor Andy King. Cold War Steve was shown the ropes by Andy as he sold magazines, chatted to the public and signed copies.

VENDORS VISIT THE HOUSE OF LORDS Founder Lord John Bird and a newly-appointed Big Issue ambassador give vendors a day to remember


he Big Issue founder, made a cross-bench peer in 2015, welcomed vendors to the House of Lords with an impassioned speech covering his own poverty-afflicted upbringing and the time he worked in a cafe at parliament while on the run from the police. He discussed his own experiences of being homeless and recalled vendors past and present. “Until we address the reasons of homelessness we will never address the demons of homelessness,” he said. Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton has recently joined The Big Issue as an ambassador – 21 years after selling the magazine in Newport town centre as a homeless teenager. “I am super excited about becoming a Big Issue ambassador,” said Dr CohenHatton. “I want to tell people who are in the same position as I was that it doesn’t have to define you. Your circumstance doesn’t determine where you end up, just where you start your journey.

“If I can help give someone that spark they may need to change things, that will be a really worthwhile endeavour for me.” At 36, she is one of the most senior female firefighters in the UK, taking charge of the service’s response to terror attacks in Finsbury Park and Westminster in London in 2017. She is also a prize-winning academic and author of a new book on life-and-death decision-making called The Heat of the Moment. Her list of achievements is especially remarkable because aged 15 she was homeless. Her happy life just outside Cardiff had been shattered by her father’s death and, like so many young people, she slipped through the net of support services. While sleeping rough Sabrina was also taking her GCSEs, showing quite clearly the resourcefulness and determination that are part of her journey. “I would sell The Big Issue every day after school,” she said. “I was in the town centre, so there was no secret to the fact I was sleeping rough. One teacher even saw THE BIG ISSUE FOUNDATION / p12 / SUMMER 2019

me selling the magazine, but he crossed the road to avoid me." Although Sabrina finds it hard to talk about her past, she is doing so now to help others. The event proved to be a big success with vendors – who also heard from Stephen Robertson, Chief Executive of the Big Issue Foundation. “You could have heard a pin drop when Sabrina Cohen-Hatton gave a frank and honest account of her journey away from homelessness and the value that The Big Issue offered her at the most difficult of times in her teenage years," he said. “Her story is a testament to the fact that personal change and opportunity is within your gift with hard work, determination and a little help from your friends. “Sabrina’s story is truly inspirational. I am totally delighted that Sabrina will be becoming an ambassador for all things Big Issue, challenging stereotypes and inspiring others to see what a hand up can really achieve,” Stephen said. “I was also honoured to spend time and chat with the Big Issue vendors who attended on the day,” he went on. “Lee, who spent over 260 days homeless and is now housed and begins paid work with The Big Issue shortly, and Bill, who is now working as a tour guide for a brewery in Bournemouth, were also in attendance and, again, living proof that the Big Issue is more than just a magazine; it is a vehicle for personal, financial and social change.” Peter, who sells The Big Issue at London's Elephant and Castle, said: “I’ve had an amazing day at the House of Lords. It’s new, I’ve never done it before, but I’ve really enjoyed it. I got to see John Bird, I had a little chat with him. “I’ve heard some good things from Sabrina – her story of building up was near enough the same as mine. I got married, I have a son and I’ve done well from The Big Issue. I’m very happy from it.” Vendor Jim also said: “This has been an eye-opener for me. I haven’t left Norwich for 30 years and to be at the House of Lords is a dream come true.”

MAKING HOUSING INTO HOMES A year on from the Homelessness Reduction Act, local authorities are still facing a massive challenge

three years by the government to support the act. But, the trouble is, local authorities overwhelmingly agree that is not enough. Think tank New Local Government Network found that two-thirds of councils believe that those funds fall short – and that figure rises to 86 per cent for London boroughs. The Local Government Association’s (LGA) own HRA survey found more people were housed in temporary and emergency accommodation and staying there for longer in six out of 10 of the councils they quizzed. The number of people presenting to authorities as homeless has also increased since the act came in for eight out of 10 councils. “A lack of affordable housing has left many struggling to cope with rising numbers of people coming to them for help and having to place more families and households into temporary and emergency accommodation as a result,” says LGA housing spokesman Martin Tett. “This is bad for families and communities, expensive for councils and not the aim of the act.” The construction of social rent homes has plummeted by 80 per cent in the last decade and that’s why homelessness charity Shelter



t’s a lofty goal backed up by a vow to build more affordable homes, run Housing First trials and a £100m Rough Sleeping Strategy. But it was a bill that didn’t come from the government that has promised to make the biggest difference in how local authorities can play their crucial role in eradicating homelessness. It was a private member’s bill – the “longest and most expensive” in parliamentary history, tabled by Conservative backbencher Bob Blackman – that led to the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) coming into force a year ago on April 3 2018. The act put the legal duty on councils in England to engage with people who have made homelessness applications in order to offer help and advice to prevent or relieve homelessness within 56 days. But with local authorities already cut to

the bone, is the act the way forward to hit those goals? “Firstly, I must say that a year is too short a time to assess how important this is,” the Harrow East MP tells The Big Issue. “The aim of the act was never to deal with rough sleeping, it was to stop people rough sleeping in the first place. What we do know is that in the first six months, 10,000 people were prevented from becoming homeless as a result of the legislation – which is 10,000 people who would otherwise have been likely to have been sleeping rough if the legislation had not been in place. “Equally the other thing that I set out to do was to reduce the costs to local authorities of having to provide very expensive temporary accommodation. If we can reduce that by just five per cent then it actually pays for the extra assistance that we would provide through the act.” That assistance is £72.7m to be paid over THE BIG ISSUE FOUNDATION / p13 / SUMMER 2019

is calling for 3.1 million more social homes to be built over the next two decades. That’s 155,000 per year, dwarfing the 6,463 built in 2017/18. Until those homes are in place to meet the demand for social housing, local authorities are still forced to stick people in temporary accommodation. And it’s not cheap – 82,310 households were living in B&Bs, hostels and so forth last year – representing a 71 per cent increase since 2010 – with the eye-watering price tag of £997 million. In many ways, the act hasn’t changed this problem – but, according to Blackman, the focus on prevention is key to allowing councils to plan, reducing the need to send people into emergency and temporary accommodation. “Every housing authority, if they’re honest, adopted the approach of, ‘It’s nothing to do with us, go and sleep on a park bench’ even if they wouldn’t admit it upfront. “What we wanted to change it to was: ‘I’m terribly sorry to hear your problem, please sit down, how can we help?’” As it stands, the act has funding for three more years to bring in that cultural change as well as more tangible results. There have been success stories with trailblazers, most notably Southwark in South London, which adopted the new regulations before they became law. But without the resources and homes councils need to unlock the act’s huge potential, there will be more glass ceilings than roofs over heads.


BEAUTY SLEEP After last year’s Big Sleep Out warmed hearts on a cold Autumn night and raised over £36,000 for The Big Issue Foundation, we’re getting ready to return to the concrete floors of the Kia Oval once more, but this time we’re going global


ack in November, nearly 100 Big Issue Foundation supporters and volunteers layered up and braved a cold Autumn night in solidarity with Big Issue vendors. While for many participants this was a one-time challenge, a powerful panel discussion, featuring current and former Big Issue vendors George, Andre and Viv, reminded sleepers of the reality for a growing number of rough sleepers every year. The vendors, who each have their own experiences of rough sleeping, spoke candidly of life on the streets of the capital and the risks that this can carry, particularly for women. Chaired by The Big Issue Foundation’s very own Individual Giving manager, Rhia Docherty, the night gave participants the opportunity to learn about how their experience that night would differ to the reality of rough sleeping. One participant commented: “One of the things that was most eye-opening for me was the vulnerability of rough sleepers and how actually dangerous it would be on the streets”. While George, Andre and Viv may all have worked their way into accommodation, rough-sleeping is a reality for close to over 4,600 people on any given night, according to recent government statistics. This year, we’re joining forces with the team that saw 10,000 people sleeping out across Scotland last year while raising £3.65m to help end homelessness. After the success of 2018’s Sleep in the Park, The World’s Big Sleep Out Trust has been established to take the power of this movement worldwide. Taking place on 7 December, The World’s Big Sleep Out marks one night where, across the world, people will be sleeping out in solidarity with not just rough sleepers in their local area, but those displaced by war and poverty across the world. This global movement hopes to see 50,000 people taking action to raise life-saving funds and The Big Issue Foundation is excited to be part of this monumental event. Big Issue Foundation CEO Stephen Robertson, who is set to join sleepers at the Kia Oval, is excited to see the partnership develop.

Stephen said: “We are delighted to be working with The World’s Big Sleep Out this year to help end homelessness on a global level. “This is an important opportunity to collaborate and catalyse change not just in the UK but across the world. “The Big Sleep Out is a vitally important event in our calendar, enabling us to ensure that our Services Team can tackle the complexities of rough sleeping, exclusion and the many other challenges that Big Issue vendors face daily. “It shines a spotlight not only on the solutions offered by The Big Issue, and the support that we offer through The Big Issue Foundation, but through this partnership we can highlight incredible charities working towards the same goal,” he said. While the night might be cold, you can expect to be warmed by the kindness of our team of volunteers, as well as the stories of resilience from Big Issue

vendors. Last year, Big Sleep Out participant Annabelle said of her experience: “You get to understand more what Big Issue vendors might have been through and it makes you far more likely to interact, connect and help them in any way you can”. Your fundraising will enable over 1,300 Big Issue vendors to gain access to the health, housing and employment support that they need to achieve their personal aspirations. Join us on Saturday 7 December and sleep out not just in solidarity with Big Issue vendors, but to end homelessness across the globe. If you and your friends, family or workplace want to make a positive change in society this year, grab your warmest, woolly hats and sleeping bag, and take to the concrete stands of the Kia Oval with us this winter. Sign up and find out more at bigissue.




We are a small charity with a big brand and a flexible approach to partnering. By working together to achieve our joint objectives, partnerships can have a tangible impact on the lives of Big Issue vendors. We are delighted to highlight some of the great partnerships from the last 12 months. We would love to develop more partnerships, for more information on how to make it happen please contact Serena Crisp, Head of Partnerships & Philanthropy at The Big Issue Foundation via email: serena.crisp@

LUSH Cosmetics favourite Lush has always worn its ethical heart on its sleeve, and we were thrilled that Lush supported our work by donating a week of sales from its Rentless range to The Big Issue Foundation. Fittingly, Rentless is a fragrance designed to “use the power of inspiration to overcome obstacles” – exactly what our vendors do day in, day out. Lush and The Big Issue have plenty of shared DNA. Lush founder Mark Constantine’s remarkable rise has


lifted him from growing up homeless to becoming one of Britain’s most successful entrepreneurs. Starting the business in his Poole kitchen in 1995, it soon grew to be the main supplier of The Body Shop, run by the late Anita Roddick who was married to Big Issue co-founder Gordon Roddick. The Rentless Range raised over £5,000 for The Big Issue Foundation – for which we were very grateful.

DAKS DAKS decided to donate a percentage of sales from their scarves during the winter season, raising over a £1,000 for The Big Issue Foundation. Jesse Sheriff from DAKS said: "We wanted to work with The Big Issue Foundation due to their reach and direct connection with London's homeless community. We were really impressed with how this project struck a chord with our customers and the luxury fashion press.

BRYAN ADAMS 'Homeless' is a collection of the singer’s own photography, including 84 images of Big Issue vendors. We are delighted that Bryan Adams has decided to donate the proceeds of his insightful book, Homeless, towards the vital work of The Big Issue Foundation. Homeless contains a collection of Bryan’s own photography, including 84 images of Big Issue vendors. The book’s concept came to life when

The story of the partnership really seemed to cut through, and gained great exposure in all the top titles, including; Harpers, Tatler, Country and Townhouse, Country Life, ES and Luxury London”.

Bryan was approached by Big Issue Guest Editor, Trudie Styler, back in 2011. Trudie suggested that Bryan create a portrait story of homeless street vendors for The Big Issue magazine. That story inspired a more in-depth photographic look at the magazine's vendors. Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, said: “Our vendors remain at the very heart of everything: we exist for them. But frequently people don’t see them. Selling The Big Issue is a hard job. The street is unforgiving. And an opportunity to look at these men and women anew, and honestly, is welcome. Bryan Adams is making us all look again.” Bryan Adams, said: “The photographs I took highlight an unavoidable fact, and almost every city around the world has a similar problem: too many people fall between the cracks and have no means to sustain a roof over their head. Thank goodness for organisations such as The Big Issue, who give the support the homeless need to get back on their feet. “They help the vendors earn their own independent living by selling magazines on the streets – and many people, some featured in this book, have survived because of this. “Homelessness is too widespread and significant to ignore. Hopefully, after reading this, you might think twice as you


walk past someone trying to make their way selling the magazine, or even busking on the street. These are people who have lost their anchor and their compass, so need our compassionate understanding and our help.” Dave Martin, who featured in the book, said: “I was a bit nervous, but it was fascinating to see how [Bryan] was curating the images. I was there a couple of hours. He looked after us well. It was fun – I had never done a photoshoot before in my life. It is exciting to be part of the project.”

HOMELESSNESS IS TOO WIDESPREAD AND SIGNIFICANT TO IGNORE Kevin Young, also photographed, said: “Meeting Bryan made my day. I was buzzing for days. He is such a lovely man. He’s the most famous person I have met but he is really down to earth.” The hardback book has been published by Steidl and priced at £35 with all proceeds going to The Big Issue Foundation. To purchase a copy, visit The Big Issue Shop –

LIFE CAN BE HARD BUT GIVING CAN BE EASY! Not everyone can commit to a regular donation and not everyone has the time to volunteer at events. But if you can’t give your time or your money then what can you give? We’re working with a range of partners to make giving easy!

SHOPPING Give As You Live – Give as you Live is an online fundraising platform allowing users to shop at over 4,300 top stores and raise free funds for charity. It works a bit like a cashback website where the dividends are sent straight to us.

SELLING eBay for Charity – Having a clear-out and want to get rid of some stuff ? eBay for Charity auctions enable you to sell your stuff and donate between 10% and 100% of the total selling price to us! Your auction also gets a special charity ribbon to help it stand out from the crowd.

RECYCLING Charity Car - Charity Car allows you to turn your old car into the maximum cash donation for the charity of your choice. That means 100% of your car's market value if it's ready to be recycled will be donated to The Big Issue Foundation. Charity Car will collect your car for free and issue your DVLA Certificate of Destruction, freeing you of any liability.

SEARCHING Savoo – Use Savoo as your search engine and they will donate 1p for every search! They also have an additional search engine just to search for voucher codes and deals online!

CELEBRATING Facebook Fundraisers – Any time you are celebrating an occasion a Facebook Fundraiser is a great way to reduce the hassle for your loved ones of figuring out what to get you, and even better, Facebook don’t charge us any fees!

For full details of how to get involved visit We are grateful to Content Creatures who created the characters and an animation (which you can view on our website) to support our Easy Giving campaign. We would also like to extend our thanks to Game Of Thrones star Paul Kaye, represented by Yakety Yak, who donated his time to record a voiceover for the video. THE BIG ISSUE FOUNDATION / p18 / SUMMER 2019


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TURNING THE PAGE Aaron Dunn has discovered a passion for fantasy fiction but is hoping to write his own story selling The Big Issue


started with The Big Issue in a time of crisis when I needed an income on the streets. I came to London from Blackpool in October and I’ve been selling the magazine since mid-November. I was a labourer for a skipping company up north but I lost my job because of mental health problems. I also

lost my flat. I am sleeping by the river now. It’s pretty rough but I get up every morning at 5am, have my cigarette, get my coffee, like a ritual routine. The first month on this pitch was really hard – I was lucky to sell five magazines a day. But now I have so many people who walk past saying “Morning Aaron” before I can say good morning to them. One bloke

buys me a coffee and breakfast every morning without fail. James O’Brien from LBC buys me a coffee each day and he’s done two shout-outs on the radio for me. It’s boosted my customers. A couple of people have come up to me and said, “Are you Aaron?” And they tell me that James mentioned me on the radio. The first time he did it, I sold an extra 23 magazines in one day. I’ve known him since just before Christmas but I didn’t realise who he was until he introduced himself in mid-January. I’ve got into photography recently. I also enjoy reading and write a diary every day. Once I’ve got somewhere to live, I want to see if I can get it published. It keeps me motivated. I’ve been a keen reader since I read the Harry Potter books when I was about 13. It was a bit of escapism from my childhood, which wasn’t easy as my dad was a drug addict. After that I didn’t read for a while, until I discovered the Lord of the Rings books. I just thought they were awesome and it opened up a whole other area of interest for me – mythology, war films and things like that. I’ve just read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which one of my regulars gave to me. I’m hoping to get off the streets soon. Last month I took part in Pay it Forward, a new scheme using QR technology to turn The Big Issue into the world’s first re-sellable magazine by enabling vendors to earn extra income via onward sales of their magazines. It’s great because you get to earn extra money on top of the sales you make of the magazine. You never know how far it is going to go. One of my magazines has already been QR scanned and passed around over 20 times. My plan for the future is just to enjoy life again. I’ve got an interview with Pret tomorrow and hopefully I’ll settle in London. Whenever I’m anywhere else I’m lonely because all my friends are here. I might be homeless, but I’ve still got a social life.

VICKY MAJOR, SERVICE BROKER LONDON “I started working with Aaron shortly after he began selling. Because he was sleeping rough, the first priority was to get him off the streets and into a night shelter. Aaron mentioned one day that a large number of his customers don’t carry cash so the next step was to get him a digital card

reader so he could take payments via contactless. We also managed to help him get a phone so he could track his magazine sales digitally and manage his money using a budgeting app. Within days his income skyrocketed – 15 or 20 more magazines every week. THE BIG ISSUE FOUNDATION / p20 / SUMMER 2019

Aaron is now looking to progress in other ways. I suggested the Pret Rising Stars programme and he is super interested in exploring this further. Good luck Aaron - we look forward to keeping in touch and hearing about your future successes.”

Profile for The Big Issue Foundation

TBIF Summer Newsletter 2019